When was the last time you ate a seafood dish that made you want to drop your fork, sprint to the ocean, and scream, “Thank you!”? For us, it was when we tried the Hawaiian kajiki at Stubborn Seed.
The thinly sliced raw fish is light, just a little spicy thanks to the habanero yogurt, and so good that we didn’t even care that they happened to be using wahoo instead of Hawaiian kajiki (marlin). There are more things on Stubborn Seed’s menu like this, and those dishes, more than anything else, are why you should put on slightly nicer-than-normal-clothes and come to this South of Fifth spot.
The menu here is small, with generally about 10 dishes that strike a great balance between looking like things you’d nod thoughtfully towards at Art Basel and food you actually want to eat. The kusshi oysters are served in what looks like the hollowed-out egg of a goth ostrich, but other than that, they’re kept simple, with just a little Thai chili mignonette and fresno pepper oil sprinkled over the meaty oysters. The round disk of warm celery root is plated with a couple of evenly crispy maitake mushrooms and a thick pool of creamy mustard. And for dessert, there’s a stack of classic snickerdoodle cookies that are served warm, stuffed with Valrhona gianduja (essentially upscale Nutella), and make a very convincing argument that every meal should end with cookies.
The dining room itself is comfortable and not too cramped - it feels sort of industrial, with metal pipes and lots of dark tones that create a dreary aesthetic which might make you sleepy if you’re not eating with someone interesting. But even if the person sitting across from you only wants to talk about a dream they had about losing all their credit card points, you’ll inevitably be jolted back to life by something you eat. And if you do feel the desire to shout your gratitude into the waves, the beach is only three blocks away. Just try not to scare the tourists.
These oysters aren’t huge, but they are delicious. The meat is chewy, and fights back rather than just sitting there all soggy. They also don’t give you any extra mignonette, which is good because you don’t want to mess this thing up with an aggressive spooning.
The fish here changes a lot. It was wahoo when we ate it and it was fantastic - even without the slightly spicy habanero yogurt that takes the fish to another level and kind of makes this look like a ceviche in a Halloween costume.
This tangy slab of celery root goes fantastically with the little pool of creamy mustard next to it, but the real star of the dish is the crispy maitake mushrooms. They’re fried evenly throughout all their little nooks and also get along just great with that creamy mustard.
At $55 for a four-ounce portion, you’ve got to really want a steak to justify this one. But if you do, this is certainly a very tasty piece of beef - especially once it’s covered in the miso butter you should lick off the plate. But we’d skip this and opt for another round of oysters or whatever raw fish they’ve got in the kitchen that day.
Warm, soft, and with a chocolatey center - the only thing that could make these cookies better is a glass of milk. But at least you can add a scoop of malted milk ice cream for an extra $4, which is just slightly better than milk.